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Manchester United linked with Barcelona defender, and it makes sense

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According to rumours in the Catalan press, Manchester United could be in for Barcelona defender Marc Bartra.

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Manchester United's defence has been lacking in the handsomeness stakes since the departure of Steve Bruce almost two decades ago, so the recent rumours linking the Reds with a move for Barcelona's Marc Bartra, 24, is most welcome. They come courtesy of newspaper Mundo Deportivo; and while we've no idea whether that's good or not, Wikipedia informs us that it's one of "predominant sources of sports news in Catalonia." So maybe it's not entirely impossible that this gossip has a basis in reality.

According to Mundo Deportivo, former Barcelona defender Carles Puyol has decided to become an agent, and Bartra has agreed to become his first client. He's apparently already said the Spanish equivalent of 'cheerio' to his previous representative Mágico Díaz, despite his being "one of the most respected ... in the profession" (though given the nature of said profession, maybe that isn't quite as impressive as it sounds). Anyway, Puyol apparently remains a close chum of Louis van Gaal, who happens to need a centre-back.

Sure, Chris Smalling looks increasingly impressive, but Daley Blind isn't a centre-back, Marcos Rojo is Rafaelesque in both good and bad senses, and Phil Jones' spirit animal is Roger Hargreaves' anthropomorphic bandaged blob, Mr. Bump. Another quality (and preferably young) defender is thus very high on United's list of transfer targets, perhaps second only to another striker. Bartra seems to be a perfect fit.

Add to that the fact that Bartra doesn't seem to have the trust of current Barcelona coach Luis Enrique -- on Friday he rather embarrassingly deleted a tweet reading "Really excited for the Clásico" after finding out he wasn't included in the matchday squad -- and this one seems like it could be on the agenda. It'd be a surprise if United weren't at least pondering the prospect.